Rangers ruling angers Lennon

01 March 2013 06:46

Celtic manager Neil Lennon made no secret of his annoyance Friday at the punishment imposed on the old company that ran arch-rivals Rangers.

An independent commission appointed by the Scottish Premier League (SPL) fined the old company or "Oldco" Rangers £250,000 ($380,000) on Thursday for making undisclosed payments to players.

But the fallen Glasgow giants, Scotland's most successful club, avoided being stripped of any of the five SPL titles they won during the period after the three-man commission, all lawyers, ruled Rangers "did not gain any unfair competitive advantage".

Lennon, a Celtic player from 2000 and 2007, was asked at a press conference ahead of Saturday's Scottish Cup quarter-final tie away to St Mirren about Rangers' claims of vindication after they were allowed to retain their titles.

"Maybe that's because they got their own way," Lennon said.

"I only saw some snippets in the paper today, I believe they were found guilty of paying £47 million over 11 years in non-disclosed payments.

"Am I surprised at that, no? As regards the competitive advantage they gained or didn't gain, a lot of other people will have a say on that, I have my own views on that but I will keep them to myself for now."

Rangers were expelled from the SPL because of their financial problems and demoted into the Third Division, the fourth and lowest tier of Scottish professional football before the start of this season, after a new company or "newco" was formed to take charge of the club's business.

Recently, the Gers let Juventus train at Murray Park ahead of the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie at Parkhead, where the Italian giants beat the Hoops 3-0.

"It wasn't our fight, it was the SPL, they brought up the tribunal against Rangers," Lennon said.

"It doesn't affect us, we have the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup to prepare for and we are playing Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions league, we are not renting out a training ground."

And the former Celtic captain became aggrieved when asked how Scottish football, which some have seen as struggling following Rangers' demotion, could move forward 'positively'.

"Listen, we have been nothing but positive, we have talked the game up all year, it is everybody else who has been talking about other things outside of our club.

"We have been a shining example to any other club this season, on and off the field. If people want to take the game forward, I am all for it, then they better get their finger out and do it.

"If you look at what we have done, I think a lot of the shine has been taken off that.

"But we have done nothing wrong, we have tried to promote the game not just domestically but also in Europe and I think we have done that very well so we don't have to do anything else.

"Other people have to stop talking and show more action."

The Northern Irishman also dismissed the notion the 2-1 league defeat at Motherwell in midweek was a sign his players were losing motivation, given they are 19 points clear of the Steelmen at the top of the table.

"It is a cheap way of criticising the team," he said. "It is absolute nonsense to say they are complacent.

"We have lost one game in the league since December. We have won seven and drawn one so that's not bad. We have scored 23 goals in the last five home games," Lennon said.

Source: AFP